Hey. It’s the Ominous Voice, back again to rip the world a new one, as is my general nature. Y’know, I’ll bet you guys often sit back in your plush recliners, sipping your Perrier root beers, wondering why I’m so damn bitter. And not just about video games, but about life in general. Well, lean forward, because ol’ Uncle Voice is gonna tell ya a story about life in the old country.
See, growin’ up, we were rather poor. And when I say “rather”, I mean “dang”. My parents didn’t have great jobs, earnin’ money out the wazoo like the other kids’ parents. My dad worked in a foundry. His job wasn’t actually to make anything; he was hired at a severely low wage just to wipe the sweat off the brows of the workers. It was below minimum wage. It was probably illegal, but in the old country (can’t remember which one), there wasn’t much work for an uneducated, homely fellow like my old man. And my ma, well, she sewed dresses, but nobody wanted to buy ’em. Somethin’ about using discarded barber hair as a dress just didn’t sit right with the townsfolk. But we were seriously poor. There were times when we’d have to steal ketchup packets from an unsuspecting restaurant just to have dinner. We were that desperate. Oh, and my parents said I was a burden. That didn’t help.
I could live with all that happening in my childhood. After all, now I can afford to buy my own ketchup for dinner. But there’s one piece of my past that I haven’t been able to shake because it was forever an injustice. I was doing track and field at school, but I couldn’t afford fancy running shoes. Not like Bradley Furburt, the handsome devil who strutted in Nikes. One day, we were running the 400m races, he in his sharp sneakers, I in my bread wrappers. Right before we began our sprint, Bradley pushed me over, saying, “This race isn’t for total losers”. And the referee didn’t do anything except congratulate him for getting first place and moving on to the regionals. Ever since that moment, I have loathed any instance of injustice in the world. So when I see injustice in a video game, I get frustrated. I get so mad, I have to let off my steam somewhere! And what better place to vent anger than here at GameCola?
I’ll tell ya one thing in video games that’s been makin’ me as mad as a granny in an improperly-fitted girdle. You know what we DON’T need? Mini-games. Yeah, that’s right, I said it. Unless you’re expecting to play a game all about mini-games, like WarioWare or that 101-in-1 or whatever megamixin’ manure Atlus threw at us, I really don’t need to sidestep into bizarro territory with your unique gameplay inserts. I buy a game because I like its genre. Don’t throw your extra programming experiments my way. I’ll wedgie any designer that does this ever again. Seriously, I’ll wear out that elastic.
(Stop eating pizzas and kicking balls. It’s time to brawl!)
Sometimes it’s done right, which is pretty impressive. Case in point: Legend of the Mystical Ninja for SNES. When you need to take a break for all that Goemon madness (though really, who does?), you’ll get to stop off at a carnival and, for a fee of precious Ryo, you can relax with air hockey, some sort of dice-based gambling game, or even a mini-version of Gradius. Or you can pass that up entirely and enjoy your game. It’s up to you, and that’s just dandy. They don’t cram it down your throat. And it gave me an excuse to play Gradius again and not fail.
Other times, however, you just want to strangle the developer staff with a stale Twizzler. My evidence? Blitzball. That’s all I have to say. Blitzball. Who in the name of high freakin’ Heavens bought Final Fantasy X to play underwater soccer? Final Fantasy X was an RPG, plain and simple. Of course, not only did RPG fans have little interest in a sports game wedged into their quest, blitzball was so opaque in how to play that only the most soccer elite could figure it out. But they shoved it down your throat. You HAD to play for some reason. Granted, you’re pretty much aligned to lose, but still, I’m sure there were more than a few gamers who felt like a loser after that. It’s just as bad as that stupid card game in Final Fantasy VIII. Does Square think we want these?
And then there are cases where mini-games are literally just thrown in there, and we’re not sure why. The racing part of Chrono Trigger…makes no sense. There’s an entire game engine dedicated to just that, even though the race is under a minute long. Why did they even bother?! Was this leftover from a scrapped game no longer in development? What about fishing in the Legend of Zelda series? What gamer thinks, “Man, I really need to save Hyrule from the forces of Ganon! Better go catch a lunker!” We don’t need fish, we need to save the damn kingdom! If I wanted to fish, I’d pop in Sega Bass Fishing and get myself some trout while I chug a beer. And let’s not forget really stupid ones, like the pizza-eating competitions in Yo! Noid, or that ill-conceived rock-paper-scissors mess in the Alex Kidd games (then again, Alex Kidd games are ill-conceived altogether). I just want to say to these games, “Hey, don’t try to be some all-purpose wannabe. Stick to one genre and shut up”. Bah.
… Oh, so all this time, you’ve been sitting there wondering just what happened to Bradley Furburt? He’s now an executive at a prestigious footwear company. And I’m stuck here typing up my monthly column, having to look at Diana Gray chowing down on Fruit Roll-Ups across the hall. Where is the justice?